Category Archives: Recipes

The Biscochos Are Here!

O, Ye of little faith! You thought I’d never come across, didn’t you. Granted, I’ve really dragged my heels with this recipe, and after taking so long with it, of course I feel like my reputation’s on the line.

I can’t count the number of people who’ve asked me – begged! – for a good recipe for biscochos, and for longer than I’m comfortable admitting. (Okay. Years.)   There are two very good reasons for so much pleading, and for so much stalling on my part.

First (or second):  Biscochos – Sephardic cookie rings – are a treat often first experienced in early childhood, and never, ever forgotten. You might even have teethed on them, though I also recall gnawing on Zwieback biscuits. (“She remembers teething?” you ask. Yep. Tastes and textures die hard).

Second (or first): What constitutes a “good” biscocho is entirely subjective, and a good biscocho recipe is very elusive. It can take ages to get it right. I’m still working on mine. Continue reading

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Chocolate counts.

I can’t think of a single holiday when chocolate confections weren’t served in our home. It was the Sephardic relatives, not the Ashkenazim, to whom it mattered most. It had to be on the dessert table, or some kind of self-imposed shame would befall the hostess.  Not in the recipes, mind you. On the side. Boxed chocolates, and the fancier the better.

I’ve only occasionally dwelled on that distinction between the two groups of relatives, probably precisely because we don’t incorporate chocolate into very many of our traditional recipes.  But when you stop to think that Spanish & Portuguese Jews and conversos were among the earliest (and most active) traders during the Age of Discovery, a strong historical link between Sephardim and chocolate seems fairly obvious. Continue reading

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Thanksgiving Mash-up: of Mina and Moskowitzes

When Alan Moskowitz first described to me his Sephardic grandmother’s “stuffing,” he had no idea it was a rare and important example of Sephardic-Ashkenazi fusion cuisine with an American accent! If you’re still not set on your Thanksgiving menu, the story and recipe are in today’s Daily Forward

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Q & A: Medieval Catalan Jewish Food (more familiar than you might imagine)

I just discovered, through DNA testing, that my ancestors lived in Girona. They left when the Alhambra Decree was issued. Do you have any recipes of Jewish specialties from Girona?  Thank you.  Ronit

Sure, Ronit! It may well be you know one or two already, as Catalonia’s medieval Jewish recipes were its first culinary exports.

If you’re familiar with spinach with pine nuts and raisins, you probably think of it as an Italian or Italian Jewish dish.  You’d be right. But there, too, in its endless regional variations (adding lemon and garlic in Rome, chive and anchovy in Genoa, sweet onion and vinegar in Venice, etc.), the basic recipe is attributed to the arrival of Sephardim at the time of the expulsion from Spain.

This classic dish is still eaten all over Catalonia, and you’ll be just as likely to find it made with chard as with spinach. Dressed simply with salt, pepper, raisins, pine nuts and olive oil, today’s typical traditional Catalan recipe is far tamer than European food was in the spice-crazy Middle Ages.  In that era spices were wildly expensive and people who could afford them made a big show of using them. Recipes were Continue reading

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